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Sometimes men just need to get away, but, in the time of COVID-19, it can be difficult to find a safe staycation within budget. We’ve found a fun alternative for men of all orientations or preferences looking to drown out the noise and anxiety of the daily grind to bond with nature. Sugar Creek Campground is a private men’s retreat 45 minutes west of Nashville, which features RV hookups, tent sites, bunkhouses and studio rentals alongside Tennessee’s Sugar Creek. While there are other gay themed campgrounds in Tennessee, Sugar Creek is closest to Nashville. 

Events Director Al Gregory says the most important thing Sugar Creek offers gay, straight, bi and trans men is a place to exhale. With what COVID-19 has done to our social life and mental health, he says the multiple acres of countryside provides a place to safely stretch out, be yourself, and breathe. Some parts of the campground, like the pool area are clothing optional, so privacy is something Sugar Creek takes seriously for both out and closeted men. 

“We have the utmost respect for our member privacy and that’s laid out in our membership agreement,” says Gregory. “We’re very aware of the fact that some of our guests are still on their journey of coming out, and we’re very sensitive to that. Because of that, we have safeguards in place as far as video and pictures in common areas.” 

“It’s just absolutely gorgeous during any time of the year,” says Gregory. “You can go swim in the creek. My husband and I love walking down and jumping in the swimming hole on a hot day. It’s clear all the way down. You can jump up to your neck and it’s clear to the bottom!” 

At Gregory’s favorite spot, the creek bed, what’s known as the “creek beach” has popped up. It’s an area with lounge chairs and a fire pit near the creek bed where many guests gather safely distanced. It grew from the need to remove chairs from the pool area to maintain social distancing, and placement at the creek bed just made sense. 

Some guests also create their own space on the campground to relax. “Some of your serious campers really doll up their tents,” says Gregory. “Multiple tents, multiple porch settings. We have some people who bring their tents, set up, and that’s where they stay. We’ll see them come up to use the restroom, but other than that, they stick to themselves.” 

The Campground offers permanent sites (for guests who leave their trailers or RVs there all year long), private studios for rent (with air conditioning, heaters, refrigerators and a nice bed with fresh linens and towels), and they also offer two different types of tent sites. Membership has actually increased one hundred percent this year, so Sugar Creek is thriving.  

“We have primitive tent sites for people who want to completely disconnect from electricity, and then we have tent sites for those who want to camp, but also want to have an air conditioner, heat or something they want to plug in,” says Gregory. 

They’ve also put several protocols in place to ensure safety. Common areas like the pool have required increased cleaning times and extra hours of labor, but it’s something Gregory says they’re committed to. 

“All of our employees are temp checked now when they come into work,” says Gregory. “We’ve also had to make sure that every area is cleaned multiple times a day.” He says they’ve also installed sneeze guards in the cafe area and an employee to check people when they enter. 

Sugar Creek is thankful they have been able to maintain and pay all of their staff throughout the crisis, with the new safety measures actually leading to an increase in staffing.  

The campground had a tremendous year scheduled for 2020, but everything had to be adjusted and scaled back. Sugar Creek still has some safe events on the books, including a leather night, game watch parties, and a creek party with House DJ Griffin Green, in addition to horseshoe and corn hole games. 

“One of the best things we can do Thanksgiving weekend is to give our community a safe place to go and escape,” says Gregory. “We’ll have a party that Saturday night with music and several bonfires going.” Gregory says they also hope to also host some events in December including a New Years’ Eve party, and that he’s thankful for the safe space offered at their all male resort. 

“No offense to Bachelorette parties or anything like that, but it’s just not what we do,” says Gregory. “We offer a place where a gay man or someone in FtM transition can come and be ourselves. People are quarantining everywhere in various situations and many don’t have that luxury.” 

If you’re looking to support local LGBTQ businesses, but maybe aren’t ready to leave the house just yet, Sugar Creek does have t-shirts, hats and other merchandise on their website. But if you’re unsure, Gregory recommends you come and at least take a tour. 

“Come out, see the place,” says Gregory. “There are multiple fire pits, it’s on multiple acres. There are public restrooms and common areas, but they are cleaned multiple times a day. My husband and I are permanents and have a 30 foot trailer out there and it has personally been amazing for both our psyche and our marriage.” 

He says the best place to keep up with the most recent, up to date information  is through their Facebook page, Instagram page or at sugarcreekcampground.net. Men wishing to book a stay can do so on that website. 

 

 

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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